Fair Food turns ten
Ten years ago this week CERES Fair Food opened its digital doors.
In that first week we delivered 129 fruit and veg boxes and 20 different grocery items – (including 3 boxes of Madelaine’s eggs, a bag of Tradewinds coffee and a bottle of Mt Zero olive oil) to 122 customers.
Fair Food had an unlikely beginning, evolving out of a weekly CERES Staff Veggie Co-op that ran from a picnic table outside the CERES Education Office.
Within a couple of years the Staff Veggie Co-op found itself feeding around 200 people a week through ten neighbourhood co-ops operating from people’s front verandahs.
These little co-ops were the original Food Hosts.
An opportunity to grow the Staff Veggie Co-op into something bigger came when the GFC hit.
The Rudd Government’ Jobs Fund was giving out start-up grants for social enterprises to employ people.
After seeing box schemes like The Good Food Box in Canada and Food Connect in Brisbane I reckoned, if things got really busy, we could employ 13 people.
The funding came; we employed the workers, we bought a van and rented a warehouse.
I remember standing in our cavernous warehouse just across the Merri Creek from CERES wondering how we were going to do this.
None of us had any logistics or ecommerce experience apart from Doran, our marketing manager, who had come to Fair Food seeking redemption after a marketing career at a global ad agency.
This would be a continuing theme – the right people always seem to come to Fair Food at the right time – including our customers.
When we started I genuinely believed all anybody in Melbourne could ever want was an organic fruit and veg box and a few basics delivered once a week to a local Food Host’s verandah.
When sales started to go backwards it was passionate customers determined to see Fair Food succeed who helped turn things around.
From their (your) feedback we introduced home delivery, labels with names on (imagine), lots of different groceries, next day delivery, six day delivery, free delivery and packaging that was reusable or compostable and these days refillable.
That shared journey matured in January this year when, with your help, we were able to raise $15,000 to support organic farmers affected by the bushfires.
It has also meant Fair Food has be able to give CERES Environment Park more than a $1 million to help people fall in love with the Earth again – via a plethora of education programs.
And now ten years since we opened, Fair Food’s 55 workers will co-operate this week to pack and deliver 900 fruit and veg boxes and 15,000 grocery items purchased from 150 food producers to 1500 households and 50 food hosts across Melbourne.
For which we would like to say, thank you.
Zoë Fox is LIVE from the Packing Floor
This Wednesday from 9.30am we’re celebrating our birthday with our third LIVE from the Packing Floor gig welcoming Zoë Fox from Zoë Fox and the Rocket Clocks.
Zoë and her band who had recorded a new album ready for launch and a tour before COVID-19 hit are, like so many performing artists and technicians, stuck in a world without gigs.
You can see Zoë performing to the packing floor on our Livestream this Wednesday from 9.30am.
And you can also read Michael Dwyer’s great piece in The Age about musicians finding ways to play in a COVID world – including our own LIVE from the Packing Floor gigs.
Have a great week
LIVE from the Packing Floor is a series of six livestreamed performances from the CERES Fair Food warehouse employing artists who have lost gigs during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The performances are a chance for our workers, producers and customers to share in the live music we have missing for so long.
It also highlights the plight of the 200,000 artists who have been excluded from the Federal Government’s JobKeeper allowance.